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preparing year 11 and 13 for their Spanish GCSE and A levels exams

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by lauramelisas, Nov 5, 2018.

  1. lauramelisas

    lauramelisas New commenter

    I'm an NQT who just started teaching Spanish last September.
    Unfortunately the most experience Spanish Teachers are off sick and will be for a long time, and we only have a head of faculty, who is not an MFL teacher. I have now been given year 11 and 13 and their mocks are at the end of this month. I have read the specification, scheme of work, etc. but I'd appreciate if someone has some advice or resources to help me preparing them for their GCSE and A level exams.
    I'm desperate!
    Thank you!
  2. Caramba

    Caramba New commenter

    Really sorry to hear about your predicament but you've done the right thing reaching out to the MFL community on the TES. Having managed an MFL team in the past and, more recently, the qualification delivery for both GCSE and GCE MFL for a leading awarding body, I would suggest the following advice:

    GCSE Mock Exam
    The main focus for the mock exam is the speaking and writing assessments. Depending on which exam board your using, I would download all support material available relating to the administration of the speaking and writing assessments:
    AQA: https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/languages/gcse/spanish-8698/teaching-resources
    Pearson: https://qualifications.pearson.com/...n-UK:Category/Teaching-and-learning-materials

    The speaking assessment is divided into three parts; role-play, picture task and conversation. As this is a mock exam, I would recommend that all students prepare the same Theme for the conversation as their 'chosen' topic. Might be best to do Theme 1 - Identity and Culture, as this includes familiar topics for students. Therefore, you'll have to choose two different Themes from Themes 2-4 (Theme 5 not included as part of role play/picture task) for the role-play and the picture task from the sample assessment material/past papers, other then Theme 1. There are a number of Sample Assessment Materials (SAMs)/past papers on the exam board website (above) for you to download to use in the mock exams. Also, as you've little time to prepare students for the mock exam at the end of the month, it might be best, for internal assessment purposes only, that you give all the students the same role-play and picture-based assessment. Of course, in the real exam, students would be allocated different Themes as per the exam board's sequencing grid.

    Therefore, it would be useful to prepare some set questions with the students on Theme 1 for the conversation. Students can speak for up to 1 minute to outline their 'chosen' topic and then you'll follow up with some questions on the topic which should then follow on to another area of the Theme. Although set questions are helpful to prepare candidates, you'll need to try to focus on a more 'natural' conversation as there is a new assessment grid for the speaking assessment to focus on 'interaction' and 'spontaneity'. You'll need to pick up from what the candidate says to try to develop the conversation, for example, if candidate says, "I like eating pizza with my friends..." you might pick up on the this and ask, "Pizza,,,, do you like other Italian food?" /or/ "That's interesting, how often do you eat pizza in the week?".

    Also, you'll need to balance the timing of the conversation equally between the student's 'chosen' topic and the second, follow up topic, as per the exam board's suggested timings, (eg; Pearson suggest 3.5 and 4.5 minutes for Foundation and 5-6 minutes for Higher tier).

    As for the role-play and picture task, if you do assess the students on the same Themes in the mock, give them some vocabulary task to do in preparation for mock exam around the themes that you've chosen (but don't tell them the themes!). They will need to ask a question(s) in the role-play and answered an unpredictable question (as given on Teacher version of role play card). They will also need to use the language of narrative to describe the picture and to express opinions within the context of what's in the picture. Therefore, choose the role-play card and picture-task wisely to ensure that it's achievable for your students in the short space of time you have to prepare them for the mock exam.

    As for the writing, there are three writing tasks and a translation task at Foundation tier and two writing tasks and one translation at Higher tier. As a starter activity to your lessons, you could put up some sentences of varying degrees of difficulty (present, past, future tenses, conjunctions, etc) in English on the whiteboard and get your students to translate them into Spanish (see past papers for examples for Foundation (sentences) and Higher (paragraph) tiers)
    Also, students will need to practice writing using the formal and informal structures. Again, look at some past papers to give you some ideas to take into the classroom.

    A-Level Mock Exam
    As for the GCSE mock exam, I would focus on the speaking and writing assessments for the preparation for the A level mock exam. As above, depending on the exam board your using, make use of the support materials for teachers on the websites, other than the specification and past papers:
    AQA: https://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/languages/as-and-a-level/spanish-7692/teaching-resources
    Pearson: https://qualifications.pearson.com/...n-UK:Category/Teaching-and-learning-materials

    For the speaking assessment (Paper 3), make sure you've got a list of the Themes that the students have chosen for their research related to Task 2 of the assessment (Discussion). If they've not started their research yet and have not chosen a Theme, it would be a good idea to give them all the same Theme to prepare in advance of their mock exam. In fact, you could use some lesson time to give them some research techniques and sometime to do some 'specific' research (again, just to get them through the mock!). As like the GCSE, the speaking assessment requires a spontaneous use of Spanish language from students, so try to follow the same technique for the GCSE exam by picking up on what the students say in response to your initial question so that you develop a more natural discussion rather than a random list of pre-learnt question/answers, which won't benefit candidates on the marks allocated for 'Interaction' mark grid. Make sure you familiarise yourself with the mark grids before the assessments before the mocks. Furthermore, for students to achieve a mark of 7 and above for 'Knowledge and Understanding' mark grid they must demonstrate evidence of their reading and research in the assessment (Pearson), eg, "I read an article in 'El Pais' that stated that 60% of....",

    As for Task 1 of the speaking, if time is an issue with preparing students for the mock, you could do the same as for GCSE and give the students the same Theme but vary the stimulus cards, (there are 4 cards per theme). Of course, the Theme for Task 1 must be different from the Theme of the students' research for the discussion. Check the exam body website for copies of past papers for speaking assessment and the stimulus cards for Task 1.

    For the writing assessment (Paper 2), students are required to do a translation exercise (English into Spanish) and write two essays on either two literary texts, or one literary text and one film. As for GCSE, prepare some translations as starter activities and also homework. Check past papers for some ideas as translations at A level will tend to include a range of tenses, including the subjunctive.
    As for the writing assessment, either the students have chosen their own two literary texts or a literary text and a film (NOT two films!) or the texts/film have been chosen from them and they are all preparing for the same ones. That's fine. Therefore, as class activities/homework, give them some background on the themes/symbols/main characters of the works they are studying. Use the past papers to give you a feel for the style of questions used in the exam and prepare an essay plan as a class activity with students for them to write for homework. Use the mark grids to give you an idea of what's expected from your students to receive marks in the top bands. As for GCSE, its good practice to familiarise yourself with the assessment grids for speaking and writing, particularly the top bands, so that you can focus your teaching on getting them to produce work to a specific standard.

    Phew! I hope this is helpful and I wish you lots of luck.
    agathamorse, Scrumpy9 and pascuam49 like this.

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